Civ­i­liza­tional collapse

TagLast edit: 12 Jul 2022 0:23 UTC by Pablo

A civilizational collapse (sometimes called a social collapse or a societal collapse) is a drastic decrease in human population size, or in political, economic or social complexity, across essentially the entire world, for an extended period of time. Civilizational resilience is humanity’s capacity to resist, or recover from, civilizational collapse.

In Toby Ord’s typology, unrecoverable civilizational collapse constitutes one of the three main types of existential catastrophe.[1]


80,000 Hours rates civilizational resilience a “potential highest priority area”: an issue that, if more thoroughly examined, could rank as a top global challenge.[2]

Further reading

Aird, Michael (2020a) Collection of sources that seem very relevant to the topic of civilizational collapse and/​or recovery, Effective Altruism Forum, February 24.
Many additional resources on this topic.

Aird, Michael (2020b) Civilization re-emerging after a catastrophic collapse, Effective Altruism Forum, June 27.

Denkenberger, David & Jeffrey Ladish (2019) Civilizational collapse: scenarios, prevention, responses, Foresight Institute, June 24.

Hanson, Robin (2008) Catastrophe, social collapse, and human extinction, in Nick Bostrom & Milan M. Ćirković (eds.) Global Catastrophic Risks, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 363–377.

Jebari, Karim (2019) Civilization re-emerging after a catastrophic collapse, EAGxNordics, April 7.

Ladish, Jeffrey (2020) Update on civilizational collapse research, Effective Altruism Forum, February 10.

Manheim, David (2020) A (very) short history of the collapse of civilizations, and why it matters, Effective Altruism Forum, August 30.

Rodriguez, Luisa (2020) What is the likelihood that civilizational collapse would directly lead to human extinction (within decades)?, Effective Altruism Forum, December 24, 2020.

Tainter, Joseph A. (1989) The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wiblin, Robert & Arden Koehler (2020) Mark Lynas on climate change, societal collapse & nuclear energy, 80,000 Hours, August 20.

Wiblin, Robert & Keiran Harris (2021) Luisa Rodriguez on why global catastrophes seem unlikely to kill us all, 80,000 Hours, November 19.

Related entries

broad vs. narrow interventions | dystopia | existential catastrophe | existential risk | existential risk factor | movement collapse

  1. ^

    Ord, Toby (2020) The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, fig. 5.2.

  2. ^

    80,000 Hours (2022) Our current list of pressing world problems, 80,000 Hours.

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